Monday, February 27, 2017

The Ceremony Remains (For Erna Rosenfeld), a poem by Hiromi Yoshida

The Ceremony Remains
(For Erna Rosenfeld)

by Hiromi Yoshida

Bike-rush down the wrong South Adams Street dead-
end to dead-end—grey October air heavy with mourning
and rainstorm threat. “Is it

rude to appear late for an occasion
such as this?” I wondered as though each
moment (I was not
there) were yet another blow
striking one final
nail into her

casket. Urgency and denial coexisted

so impossibly—propelling me in all the wrong directions
as though my heart were a broken

compass unable to gauge the simplest
way to the site of serene abjection (i.e. the Beth

Shalom Gardens). Discarded funeral
program pamphlets folded slightly

askew with the damp of sad fingers;
water for ritual handwash running
sparkles; bowl of unknown Jewish ceremony
implements folded carefully in dark

blue linen; and the colossal casket in the designated oblong hallowed groundspace--clods of soil ritualistically scattered across its hidden surface, the ceremony remains
in the gradual sunlight seeping through the sky’s opening cracks

above those who linger at Valhalla.

Bio: Hiromi Yoshida has been described as one of Bloomington’s “finest and most outspoken poets” by Tony Brewer, Chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington, Indiana. Her poems have been published in The Asian American Literary Review, Indiana Voice Journal, Evergreen Review, and The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Poisoned Soil, by Joseph S. Pete

Poisoned Soil
by Joseph S. Pete

In a black-and-white picture,
Shadow-effect letters pop off the pristine fence line,
Proudly declaring the plant “The Home of Anaconda White Lead”
As though lead were as wholesome as oatmeal,
As All-American as dogs and suds at a vintage drive-in.

For decades, the factory smelted lead,
Corroding lead, antimonial lead,
Lead for paint, insecticides, who knows what else.

Bug-killing chemicals seeped into that patch of soil in East Chicago,
City of heavy industry and hopeful immigrants,
Lakefront city of coiled steel and ship canals.

After the factory inevitably shuttered,
Having run its course,
Someone somewhere at some point
Decided to plop public housing on that salted swath of lead and arsenic.
Somebody decided it was okay
For kids to play in neurotoxin-ridden dirt.

Then one day,
Officials in button-down shirts and soft leather shoes
Called a public meeting
In a school auditorium where a few of the seats were busted-up,
And had been for years.

They spoke of contamination, exposure, testing.
They warned of brain disorders and nervous system damage.
They used words like “toxicity” and “risk,”
Phrases like “cognitive deficit.”

Residents learned there was a malicious invader
In the soil, in their children’s blood.
They learned it had been there,
Been lurking
All along.

From the poet: "Joseph S. Pete is an Iraq War veteran, an award-winning journalist, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio in Merrillville. He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest 2016, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His work has appeared in The Five-Two, Chicago Literati, Dogzplot, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Pulp Modern, Zero Dark Thirty and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers' Workshop. True story, believe it or not."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Singular Plurality, a poem by Dan Carpenter

Singular Plurality
by Dan Carpenter

When one
learns one
interests no one
not even one’s
loved ones
one feels at once
at having won

at one for once
with oneself

About Dan Carpenter: I'm a freelance writer in Indianapolis who's published poems in Flying Island, Poetry East, Illuminations, Pearl, Xavier Review, Southern Indiana Review, Tipton Poetry Journal and other journals.” 

Monday, February 6, 2017

February Ice Storm, a poem by Doris Lynch

February Ice Storm
by Doris Lynch

       Eighty-four years ago, your first--
another century, another world.
Horsecarts clattered over cobblestones,
fruit & vegetable men yodeled to housewives,
urging them to buy winter carrots and cabbages.
On Allegheny Avenue flappers wove,
their hair newly cropped, sequened dresses
shining with sun. Scarfs, capped
with fox faces, draped ivory necks.
Another February--your birthday--
you lie cocooned in a hospital bed
in Crystal River’s Emergency Room
across from the twin-headed nuclear
plant that buttresses the Gulf of Mexico
while a phone call away, Indiana
hail hisses and trucks disgorge
salt onto Highway 45.

There is no safety
for any of us: not drivers
skidding from tiger-stripe
to bike lane, not doctors
carefully scanning your MRI,
not black lab sprawled, legs akimbo
on glazed lawn beneath the lone cardinal
seeking shelter in crystalline hedgerow.

Ice comes from a mysterious place
called cloud, None of us can see through
or beyond it. But isn’t it enough when sky
timpanis music? That we tilt
faces up, mouths open
like baby starlings, and tiny shards
enter and melt on our tongues.

About Doris Lynch: She has work recently in the Tipton Poetry Journal, the Atlanta Review, Frogpond, Haibun Today, and Contemporary Haibun Online. The Indiana Arts Commission awarded her three individual artist’s grants: two in poetry and one in fiction.